Friends release political endorsements
The Friends of Durham, a moderate to conservative political action committee, has made its endorsements in the school board races, sheriff’s race and the race for district attorney.
Durham voters will be asked to elect four school board members when they go to the polls on May 6.
While many of the races on the ballot are primaries, the four school board races will be decided on May 6. In addition, the candidates in the races for sheriff and district attorney are all Democrats, so those races essentially will be decided in the primary.
In the District 1 school board race, the Friends endorsed Michael Lee, a product manager for Global Data Services at Credit Suisse, over incumbent Omega Curtis Parker, whom the organization has endorsed in the past.
“We are very appreciative of her untiring service and she is well-liked in Durham,” the Friends of Durham said of Parker. “While we have endorsed Mrs. Parker in the past, we feel that the board needs an infusion of new perspectives that are offered by Michael Lee.”
The group cited Lee’s concern about Common Core, teacher satisfaction and retention, and the district’s rising suspension rate among the reasons for the endorsement.
It also said Lee’s strong management and budget skills can make him a “viable BOE member.”
In addition to Lee and Parker, Thomas Poole is also vying for the District 1 school board seat.
In District 2, the Friends endorsed Terrence Ray Scarborough, an assistant director of licensure at UNC-CH, General Administration.
The seat is currently held by Fredrick Davis, who is not seeking re-election.
The Friends noted that Scarborough has frequently mentored youth and is a current member of the Rogers-Herr Middle School/School Improvement Team.
The group also cited his concern for the impact Common Core is having on students and his willingness to meet with parents in “town hall” style meetings.
“He wants to grow parent/community involvement to bring tangible skills to students,” the group said. “We think that Terrence [Scarborough] will bring his combined skills and perspective to help the effectiveness of the Board of Education.”
Sendolo Diaminah, Jimmy Doster, Donald Hughes and DeWarren Langley are also in the crowded field for the District 2 seat.
In District 3, the Friends of Durham endorsed Lisa Gordon Stella, the Truancy Court program director at Elna B. Spaulding Conflict Resolution Center.
“While Lisa [Gordon Stella] is the parent of a student in a local public charter school [both of Gordon Stella’s children actually attend private school], she urges that there be a ‘Vision based on what's really needed to help every North Carolina child succeed,’ ” the Friends of Durham wrote in its news release. “Her focus is on maximizing the educational experience for all students.”
The group noted that Gordon Stella supports creating a strategic plan for DPS, providing better support services, promoting alternatives to suspension and doing more with less money.
Deborah Bryson, Steve Gatlin and Matt Sears are also vying for the District 3 seat currently held by Nancy Cox who is not seeking re-election.
The Friends also threw its support behind District 4 incumbent Natalie Beyer who is running unopposed.
For sheriff, the Friends endorsed Michael Andrews, who was appointed to the post in 2011 to replace Worth Hill who retired.
The Friends noted Andrews’ priorities to improve departmental communications for the Sheriff’s Office 450-plus employees, more staff training and better communications with Durham residents.
Clarence Birkhead and Richard Buchanan are also vying for the sheriff’s post.
And in the district attorney race, the Friends gave the nod to Brian M. Aus over Mitchell Garrell and Roger Echols.
“He [Aus] is a seasoned, well-credentialed attorney who wants to improve the effectiveness of the District Attorney's Office,” the Friends wrote. “Brian seeks to be a more visible and hands-on DA. He wants to help break the pipeline from ‘school to prison’ model and impact that model with gang intervention techniques.”